Church for sale

The Anglican Journal, the Anglican Church of Canada’s paper, for June 2011 carries two significant headlines.  The first is that of the “Christian’s response to Osama bin Laden’s death”.  The second asks the question: “Will diocese of Moosonee disappear?”

The state of The Church in North America is of course at the heart of this last question, and even driving home today, we passed a church with a large FOR SALE sign on the front of the property.  I noted from the cornerstone which was clearly evident, that this was a United Church and the cornerstone date stood out 1956.  That’s the year of my birth.

In 1956 an excited group of leaders and congregants would have stood out on that corner, with excitement and anticipation.  No doubt the atmosphere would have been party-like as young and old observed the physical fruit of spiritual, emotional, financial and social efforts.  No doubt they envisioned a future bright with potential.

If you’ve been witness to a dying church you will know that the FOR SALE sign came long after the actual last breath was breathed.  Churches don’t die suddenly, they wither away.  The selling of the assets is simply dealing with the Last Will and Testament.

The Anglican Journal records: “Will the diocese of Moosonee be dissolved?  This is the question facing its synod this month in Timmins, Ont.  Confronted with financial distress, the 45th Synod (June 3-5) must decide whether the diocese can continue its operations or whether it should be dissolved so that other forms of ministry can be pursued.”

This is not an unfamiliar discussion among many denominations.  It is one that is happening with greater frequency too.  The Church in North America is facing some very difficult decisions.  Should we wish to know the future many scholars are pointing to Europe’s secular culture as the destination of our present journey.  Also in the news lately is the formerly unheard idea of the Crystal Catherderal selling it’s buildings and property to pay its debts.

It reminds of the somewhat simple yet profound declaration of Mrs. Commissioner Howe a few years ago… “change or die”.

I would add – change the methodology, keep the message.

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